October 20th, 2011 By UK Ministry of Defence, DEFENCE TALK
After six months of operating from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus the RAF's Sentinel aircraft, which has been gathering vital reconnaissance imagery as part of NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, is relocating to Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy.
Officer Commanding 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, Wing Commander Ed Marshall, explained how the move to Gioia del Colle will enhance the Sentinel's mission effectiveness:
"The relocation of Sentinel to Gioia del Colle air base reduces our transit distance to and from Libya, increasing the time that the aircraft is able to remain on task for each sortie.
"This increased task time will permit additional data to be collected and, when combined with the ability to interact face-to-face with the colocated Tornado GR4 crews and Tactical Imagery Wing analysts, will significantly enhance the contribution that Sentinel is able to make to the Libya operation."
By having air and ground crews working closely alongside each other, there is an opportunity for improved fusion of Tornado's reconnaissance product and the Sentinel's enhanced reconnaissance and surveillance systems.
As a package of air power, their effect is ever-enduring and their contribution has been crucial to the success of the RAF's mission.
Commanding Officer of 906 Expeditionary Air Wing, Group Captain Squires, welcomed the move and emphasised the benefits of this integration to Op ELLAMY, the UK's contribution to Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR. He said:
"The colocation of Sentinel and Tornado will provide an excellent opportunity to fuse the two platforms' differing ISR [intelligence, surveillance amd reconnaissance] capabilities and provide a better understanding of a complex battlespace."
Last month the Typhoons left theatre to focus on their main effort, defence of the UK mainland, leaving the Tornado GR4 as the sole fast jet, multi-role capability.
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